The North Carolina Senate on Monday approved legislation banning wind energy projects across central and eastern portions of the state used for military training flights in an effort to protect missions at several installations.
“I can tell you right now that a community, as far as the military is concerned, that is reactive is going to lose their military presence,” said state Sen. Norm Sanderson (R), whose district includes Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. “You cannot take a third of your largest economic driver in the state and throw it under the bus,” Sanderson said, reported Stars and Stripes.
The state needs to take action to protect low-level training corridors used by the military, said state Sen. Harry Brown (R), the bill’s sponsor. Otherwise, Cherry Point and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base could be at risk.
“Protecting those bases is probably one of the more important things we can do to protect our economy in this state,” Brown said, reported WRAL. “You talk to any military person in this state, and they’ll tell you — if their base or post can no longer train, they’re not viable and they’re subject to closure. That’s the No. 1 issue.”
The ban would apply to a map of military training areas developed for the state’s Military Affairs Commission. Opponents of the legislation, including environmental groups, say the boundaries go further than the corridors mapped out by DOD.
The state’s new Department of Military and Veterans Affairs would review applications to build turbines and recommend whether to approve or deny them based on how the projects would affect military training.
The Senate defeated several amendments that would have removed specific regions from the boundaries where wind farm development is restricted.
The bill now heads to the North Carolina House.